Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
What’s it about? By the third (and last) book of the Hunger Games trilogy, all 12 districts (what’s left of them, at least) of the dystopian country of Panem are in outright rebellion. Seventeen-year-old Katniss Everdeen now lives in the previously unknown and underground District 13. Known as the Mockingjay, she’s become a sort of mascot for the rebellion, with all of the burdens and responsibilities that implies.
This audiobook chronicles District 13’s fight for freedom from the Capitol for all of the Districts, with the goal that no one will ever again have to answer to the Capitol or send children to fight in the Hunger Games. For Katniss, this means finally facing up to Capitol ruler President Snow, not to mention staring down everything else that’s crossed her path along the way. Choosing between Peeta and Gale. Protecting her mother and sister. Learning to preserve her sense of independence while dedicating her existence to serving the greater good. And just plain staying alive.
Is the narrator any good? Mockingjay is part of a trilogy, all narrated by Carolyn McCormick, a seasoned audiobook narrator with an MFA and a primetime acting career under her belt. This book has a different feel from the previous two, because in this one Katniss is a different person. Not only is she a little older (over a year lapses between the three audiobooks), but she’s been through so much in the span of two Games that permanent change is inevitable. It takes a special person to be able to reflect where someone’s been and at the same time where they’re going, but in this last installment, McCormick continues her balanced portrayal of the conflicted Katniss, right up to the twisty conclusion.
The verdict? The Hunger Games trilogy is one of those series whose closing moments you dread, because you know you’ll have to leave the characters to their own devices and move on to the next story. All throughout the audiobook Collins keeps one-upping herself, putting Katniss in increasing dire circumstances that made me regularly stop to wonder, How will she possibly get out of this one?, only to find in the next scene that things have somehow gotten worse. But when the end finally came, however unexpected, it was so organic to the story that it almost felt like a letdown. Or maybe that was just my own strange sadness that Katniss would now go on without me, and I without her.